Season 2, Episode 5
For Friday, September 4, 2015
“To Worship Is…”
HOST: Wade Webster
- William Temple defined worship in this way: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.” This definition captures five of the key characteristics of true worship. As we get ready to worship each week, we should reflect upon these characteristics.
William Temple once defined worship in this way: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
It is hard to find a definition that captures all of the characteristics of true worship. However, this definition captures at least some of them. As we understand these characteristics, our worship is sure to be enriched.
First, to worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God. This concept is clearly recorded in Scripture. David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, declared, “So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name” (Psa. 80:18). The Hebrew word translated as quicken means “to be restored to life or health…to revive” (2421). Sometimes our consciences need reviving. They can be hardened and deadened by the world. Worship softens and quickens our consciences by bringing us into the presence of a Holy God. The sixth chapter of Isaiah records an occasion when Isaiah came into God’s presence and was pricked by it. We read, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isa. 6:1-7).
Second, to worship is to feed the mind with the truth of God. God’s word is often pictured in the Scriptures as food. Just as we feed our physical bodies, we must feed our souls and minds. In fact, we should esteem God’s word more than our necessary food (Job 23:12). We should hunger and thirst after righteousness (Mt. 5:6). Like newborn babes, we should desire the sincere milk of the word that we might grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:2). Over time, we should progress from the milk of the word to the meat of the word. Like a baby, we should progress from liquids to solids. Sadly, those at Corinth were not progressing as they should have. We read, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (1 Cor. 3:1-2). It seems that the brethren addressed in the book of Hebrews were even more immature than those at Corinth. We read, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:12-14).
Third, to worship is to purge the imagination by the beauty of God. There is much ugliness in the world because of sin. Sin contaminates and corrupts. Not only does it corrupt our world, it can corrupt our imaginations. As you recall, it corrupted the imaginations of those of Noah’s day. In the book of Genesis, we read, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). As we prepare to worship, we must purge out the old leaven in our hearts. To the saints at Corinth, Paul wrote, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). Paul’s mention of sincerity and truth reminds us of the Lord’s description of true worship. We read, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). The beauty of God moves us to purge our imaginations that we might worship God in the beauty of holiness. David declared, “Honor and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalms 96:6-9).
Fourth, to worship is to open the heart to the love of God. By nature, God is love. John, the apostle of love, declared, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). Although God is love, and has shed abroad His love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), we must open our hearts to receive His love. Sadly, some hearts are closed to God’s love. On one occasion, Jesus declared, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Mt. 13:15). Although Jesus wanted to show the Jewish people love, they refused. We read, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Mt. 23:37).
Fifth, to worship is to devote the will to the purpose of God. From the beginning, man has had freewill. True worship is when man chooses to worship according to the will of God. False worship is when man chooses to worship according to his own will. In the book of Colossians, Paul was dealing with false worship. Some of the saints were worshipping as they wanted, instead of as God wanted. We read, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23). Today, many continue to devote their will to doing what they want, instead of devoting their will to doing what God wants.
To rehearse what we have learned in this study, “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God,” and “to devote the will to the purpose of God.” As we get ready to worship this week, let’s keep t
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